By: Windy Lopez-Aflitto, Vice President of Content and Partnerships, at Learning Heroes, a nonprofit organization with a mission to equip and inform parents so they can best advocate for their child’s educational success
As a former teacher, I remember the excitement and (nerves) that came with back-to-school—lesson plans, classroom prep and, of course, getting to know my new students—what their strengths and areas for growth were and how they learned best. I also enjoyed writing my welcome letter to parents, sharing a bit about the year ahead and asking them to share their child’s interests and motivations. Thinking back, I would have welcomed a way for parents to know how their child was progressing with foundational skills needed for the new school year in order to share that information with me, right at the start of the year.
For two years in a row, Learning Heroes’ national parent survey found that nine in ten K-8 parents believe their child is at or above grade level in both reading and math, while the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) shows that barely one-third of students perform at grade level. And, Scholastic’s Teacher & Principal School Report: Equity in Education revealed that only 39% of teachers say their students arrive prepared for grade level work at the beginning of the year. By parents and teachers having a shared understanding of what children need and how to best support specific grade-level skills in the classroom and at home, everyone can succeed.
When parents have an accurate and clear understanding of their child’s progress, they can help their child start the school year strong, best partner with teachers, and reinforce what’s being taught in the classroom each day. This is why I’m excited that Learning Heroes has partnered with leading experts in math and reading to create the Readiness Check, a new (free) interactive tool that helps K-8 parents see how their child has learned foundational skills needed to learn new skills this year while immediately connecting them to easy-to-use information and resources to support these specific abilities at home.
The best part—the Readiness Check only takes a few minutes as children answer 3-5 short questions in math and reading—like a fun review of last year! Available in both English and Spanish, the new tool is part of the Super 5: Back-to-School Power Moves, which includes 5 simple actions parents can take to help set children up for success in the new school year:
- Get a Gut-Check. Use the Readiness Check to get a sense of how prepared your child is for their new grade. Pay attention to how easy or hard it is for them to do grade-level tasks, and look at the annual state test results from last year. If you haven’t received the results yet, ask your child’s teacher.
- Partner Up. At your first teacher meeting, bring your child’s state test results and ask what they mean for this year. Find out what’s expected of your child and how you can help at home. Help the teacher get to know your child by sharing their interests and strengths as well as what you learned from the Readiness Check.
- Make it Fun. You are the expert on your child and can help make learning exciting! Read together on topics that interest your child. Find math in everyday life and turn it into a game. These small learning moments add up to a lot!
- Celebrate Effort. Help your child see that hard work is what leads to success. Focus on effort and what your child is learning. This will help your child feel less nervous about new tasks or subjects.
- Support Life Skills. Strengths such as communication, problem-solving, and confidence will help your child in school and life. Talk openly with your child about how they feel and how they handle situations, especially the tough ones.